KODACHROME a question for photo engineers.

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by alan doyle, Feb 1, 2009.

  1. alan doyle

    alan doyle Member

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    and anyone else that has a view.

    hi folks.
    assume the last batch of k64 is done..say this was done before kodak knocked down building 13 in rochester...
    and we are getting slices from the big original cake,made say 2 or 3 years ago.
    can the raw product be made for another batch..
    can existing coating systems and machinery be used or is this film so unique that it cannot be done. without the kit from the old factory.
    i understand that the corporate position, is this is an existing product and it is in the 2009 portfolio..
    but since kodak will not make any official or unofficial comment on what is happening...
    i would just like to know the technical logistics.
    of coating another batch of k64 or dare i say 200asa..
    please do not respond by saying nobody is buying the existing batches or talk about supply v demand..

    many thanks..
     
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  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Alan;

    Current Kodachrome is (was/will be) being made on the new coating machine, and does not rely (nor did it) on the old machine. It uses conventional B&W emulsions with special chemicals for adjusting image quality and spectral sensitivity. They are all available. I have 900 mg of the red sensitizing dye myself. It is available on the open market.

    PE
     
  3. OP
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    alan doyle

    alan doyle Member

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    ok..great.thanks for such a quick reply..
    you make it sound quite easy.
    what about kodachrome 200asa would that be a major or a minor technical problem to make another batch..
    i understand this is silly talk but i am interested in this because i am thinking of doing a project and am looking at many options..
     
  4. AutumnJazz

    AutumnJazz Member

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    As Ron had said before, there was no market interest in 200. It didn't sell. Kodachrome is barely surviving (if it even is...) and 64 is all we're going to have made new until it dies.
     
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    alan doyle

    alan doyle Member

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    as i said i know the position the situation now...that why i said silly talk.
    i do not care about the markets interest...
    i have my reasons for asking the question..just need to know how complex a custom run of 200 is..
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I would not think it was hard, just expensive. It would probably take about 6 months from notification to completion. And, you assume the risk that it might not be a good batch. The line has been shut down for years and you would be asking them to restart without a development test, essentially. Unless you paid for a development test as well, or perhaps used the results of a development test.

    PE
     
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    alan doyle

    alan doyle Member

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    your fantastic thanks for this...
    could you tell me the size of a development test..what kind of amounts of raw product would come out of this..
    for instance say you wanted this development test or a batch run done..to bulk loads of 35mm...
    theoretically,how much product would you end up with..
    cheers.
     
  8. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    You might have to mortgage that small Caribbean island that your uncle owns...

    But, you know, some things just HAVE to be done.
     
  9. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Alan;

    This would probably amount to the budget of a small country! :D

    Actually a pilot run would be in the $25000 - $100000 range I think. Just a guess. The production run would be much more than that.

    The pilot run would be perhaps 5000 ft (one master roll) x anywhere from 5" wide to 21" wide depending on the availability of equipment. My understanding is that the 21 machine is shut down and all pilot runs are being done on the narrower equpment.

    A production run would be 42" x 5000 ft minimum, but may require a longer run just to get the big machine stable and at the proper speed.

    PE
     
  10. analogsnob

    analogsnob Member

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    Wow is that dollar range real? Its dear but not out of the question do you think they'd really do such a thing? The next question is how many film crazed zealots does it take to afford it? Speaking as a film crazed zealot, I'd drive cheap used cars the rest of my life for a supply of the materials I love.
     
  11. Aurum

    Aurum Member

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    That cost sounds real enough. Remember that each individual roll is only a small fraction of a run, and they're not that cheap compared to regular film.

    I'm nursing some products through first production this week. That $5 tube of cream you buy in the store, is made in big batches that can cost upwards of £40K.

    Big beakers cost big bucks
     
  12. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Just remember, one "run" of a mile of 5" to 42" wide film has a limited shelf-life, and has to be sold within a narrow window of time to be good. If unsold product exceeds expiry date, it has to be scrapped, thus eliminating profit completely to the manufacturing company.

    While many of us use and get good results from expired film, no manufacturer can (in good faith) sell expired film.
     
  13. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    we could just be happy with the film we have!

    Alternatively you could buy the 5000ft roll of film and put it in a large black light proof bag and stick it in a freezer in your basement and slowly chip into it for the next 40 years. I think if you paid for a roll of kodachrome 25 there would probably be people asking you for a cut.

    If I ever win the lottery I will buy a coating run of K25 just as a service to the photographic world. That would require that I enter the lottery first, but...
     
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  15. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Ahhh, but it only lasts with good quality for about 2 - 4 years and then begins to deteriorate. By 10 years, you would not want to use it.

    Besides, freezing and thawing and moisture condensation would kill you even if it kept.

    PE
     
  16. TerryM

    TerryM Member

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    Questions for PE

    Ron, I have a few questions about this:
    1) Is there any reason why a Pilot Run would have to be fully 5000 ft long -- instead of a few hundred feet?
    2) What are the complications in getting the Machine running properly?
    3) Can't they do a Pilot Run with just plain gelatin Emulsions (no Halides) which would save a lot of money?
    4) How common is it for something to go wrong with the finished Films, and how could you possibly know that something is wrong -- since you can't 'look' at the unexposed Film? (A Ron Andrews had said that about half of the K25 Emulsions sometimes had to be discarded.)
     
  17. OP
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    alan doyle

    alan doyle Member

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    good questions...
    i have been speaking to kodak...even offered to buy a whole pilot run...yes crazy i know...
    spent 3 days..calling all over the world..in the end was so angry tried to get through to the chief execs office to complain..
    could not speak to the right people..
    this company is deep in dog mess...even had emails from people in pro stills..saying kodachrome 64 was cancelled 3 years ago and if it is on the website or in b&h store new york..they might be getting outdated supplies from germany...i had to send them the kodak website link with kodachrome on it...
    i understand getting a custom run done is not like baking a cake..but they are sinking and yet they still have the attitude like it is the 1990's..
    kind of like the band on the titanic,they carry on playing hoping it will be ok.
    they do not need my money...but you know what fuji likes my cash...
    kodak was making most of it's money from property sales...
    this could be future...for the big yellow..
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHsIBkuuii4
     
  18. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Ok, here are your answers as best I can:

    1. I can do a pilot run of about 10 feet, but due to the need for startup and shutdown defects, and the fact that 6 to 9 layers are involved, that increases this to about 100 feet to get 10 good feet on a small machine. Also, it takes more time and cost goes up. Also, the formula is now made up for slide coating and the small pilot machines use extrusion so it would have to be reformulated. And. and. and..... and.......... Do you see the point?

    2. Startup and shutdown.... A proper coating bead must be established and until it is set up, the machine is not coating what you want. And, if it is in this startup mode, speed is not optimum and drying is also not optimum.

    3. Yeah, to what point. This is like making a model of a car out of gelatin. Looks like a car and might even have the same weight, but won't run. :D

    4. K25 is the extreme, but Ron is exactly correct. K25 was one of the hardest products to coat. But that type of problem is common. You can "see" what is wrong with IR sensors.

    PE
     
  19. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Good old Dave..... :D (Yeah, I know Dave Fiegel if it is the same one.... He is from my home town. We used to drive back and forth to Rochester lo these many years ago......)

    Look, Alan, Fuji used to make a fully compatible Kodachrome film. They were smart. They quit making it when the market dropped below a certain level. Why not go beat on them? Kodak is taking a hit for keeping a loss leader out there just for a few hundred or whatever, rabid customers. (I don't mean that in a bad way BTW), But, Kodak is doing it as a loss leader and should not be taken to task for it.

    Go try to order a 2009 Edsel from Chevrolet.

    PE
     
  20. accozzaglia

    accozzaglia Member

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    The Edsel analogy is not applicable (and the Ford company, not GM, devised it after the name of Henry Ford's effete son). Perhaps a better analogy is the long play vinyl record: it continues to be produced, albeit in smaller batches with very artisan-like care. It's more expensive, but the quality is exceptional and one gets what they're paying for (and consumers willingly still pay for them).

    I respect your technical wisdom, but this is a piece of constructive criticism I wish to respectfully offer, PE. It would be nice if from time to time a bit more critical voice is balanced when analysing or retrospectively looking at EK's business practices in general -- past, present, or future. Sometimes the comments other APUG members make about Kodak are silly and farcical (or naïve, and I'll admit to making a couple as I've learnt more along the way), but not every criticism or constructive challenge is all that far-fetched or exceptional in being brought up. From your comments, I seem to hear very little in the way of, "Well, there could have been a better way to market this," or "Kodak did make a strategic mistake here, but on balance . . ." or "I didn't necessarily agree with that company decision." Instead are responses which feel like they're lock-and-step with what one might say if they're required to hew their own opinion with the organization. Your engineering knowledge is unmatched here, PE, but from time to time, I cannot help but shake my head at what seems like a party line is being walked without challenging it in the slightest.

    That said, Kodachrome. Yeah. What may not be technically possible though worth bringing up anyhow -- be it Kodak, Fuji, etc. -- is the optimizing of creating scaled-down engineering processes to effect the same product but in much smaller batches. So instead of a massive machine making one quantity from a master roll of x-size, a scaled-down optimization might be able to yield comparable quality control while yielding much smaller master rolls (say, 1/4x- or 1/8x-size). In a sense, perfecting manufacturing miniaturization. Maybe it's not possible with some emulsions, but at least the idea should be entertained when discussing a better way for long-standing film makers which are poorly-accustomed to thinking in scales of boutique or reserves marketing -- and doing so profitably, even if it is a low-yield profit. There remains a demand for products, and between miniaturizing processes and adopting a consumer-pull model of selling (rather than manufacturer-push), there should be a way to arrive at meeting that objective.

    Anyway, thanks for listening, and I apologize if I stepped on your feet, PE.
     
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  21. OP
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    alan doyle

    alan doyle Member

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    ron,you are clearly the man but this last final of batch kodachrome is not a loss leader...the investment has happened..they just have to shift the remaining amounts...
    i have just purchased 200 rolls of k64 and will be buying another 600 soon..but i might not be allowed because of allocation issues...
    i get angry with kodak cos they do not listen...look at the motion picture yes they are small and nimble but they do listen. and i believe they are doing ok..
    clearly i am stupid,and know nothing about business..but i have a funded project that could be interested in buying a ton of film..and i get bounced around for days..
    perez was employed to hack and burn and make money..i had a request that failed...maybe they will be more flexible when they have one warehouse left and they are sub contracting film to ilford and inkjet to Hewlett-Packard.
    but i do not know nothing,i am only a customer cos kodak always knows best.
     
  22. nickrapak

    nickrapak Member

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    Actually, I think the Edsel analogy was correct. Depending on how one was to read Alan's comment, one could assume that he was talking about calling Fuji and asking them to make Kodachrome. Also, in this case, the Edsel analogy does not mean "discontinued", but "obsolete technology", which Kodachrome obviously is. That is not to say that Kodachrome is not useless (I use it myself), but that the technology is outdated and when Kodachrome dies, K-14 dies.
     
  23. accozzaglia

    accozzaglia Member

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    A couple of thoughts:

    Obsolescence can only be reached when there is no utility left in a product. A good example of this would be the minicassette, because when other options were introduced, there was no desire for tape hiss and limited sonic range and thus found itself without much going for it -- including a market. Kodachrome is a vintage technology with a perception of utility by a group of consumers. Those utilitarian merits which advance its utility as a film that continues to be used are novel, unique, and difficult (if not impossible) to replicate with other technologies. If there was no interest in this distinctive mode of reproduction, then it too would fall by the wayside of the minicassette.

    Every once in a while, a technological offering long outlives its intended market because a demand continues for a unique characteristic. Often, it makes no logical sense because it's a matter of emotional senses being appealed to. Some things that come to mind which one might call "vintage" yet are still used by many: Spam (the canned meat); the Porsche 911; the Kitchen-Aid mixer (or the Kenwood, either way); the vinyl record; Coca-Cola; Levi's blue jeans; and so on. Under the rubric of considering Kodachrome "obsolete", these too are equally so. Some of these, of course, have been refined over the years as a condition of continuing to offer them to a consumer base that continues to demand them. So has Kodachrome. K-14 is just the third major chemistry solution for the process. Perhaps there's an ecologically sounder way to try a "K-15" system should consumers continue to ask for it by name. In other words, there is still room for refinement, optimization, and streamlining for how it reaches the consumer's hands.

    And while I see what you are saying about the Edsel, the analogy still doesn't work. The Edsel wasn't so much an obsolete technology in its day as one which missed the target of what consumers in that day wanted in a car. It was aesthetically unattractive, though built on the same technology as other Fords of the same era (the way a Mercury, which is no longer sold in Canada, is today). GM was still setting design trends under Harley Earl's watch, and people wanted that stylish design, leaving Ford scrambling to find something that was desirable without reinventing the wheel. Eventually, they figured it out by doing the same thing to a Ford Falcon, which came to be known as the Ford Mustang. (I've come to know this stuff, all thanks to a seminar in North American automobile history I learnt at university, yay).

    In any event, Kodachrome can be a viable product still, owing to changes in how it is produced, marketed, and made available. Kodak could have an instantly recognizable web store the way Apple has done for a decade and offer Kodachrome direct to consumers the way Apple has offered select products exclusively through their web site (which do not appear in stores). If all demand were absent, then yeah, forget about Kodachrome. The trick is to find the path that can make it profitable. It remains a product which, in effect, is as signature as Burger King's Whopper, or Chanel's No. 5, or Chevrolet's Corvette, or Buckley's Mixture (it's a Canuck thing the Yanks here might not understand). How practical these are or aren't isn't the point: people still want them, even if they've been refined. Likewise, people still want Kodachrome. Without it, what does Kodak have left which emotionally resonates with consumers? Ektar? Sure. What else?

     
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  24. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    A good point, PE....I'm grateful for as long as Kodachrome is available. My only criticism might be that Kodak are not forthcoming as to how long that will be. I've stocked my freezer with enough K64 to last me until the end of 2009, which is the latest expiry date I've seen, in the UK at least, but would happily buy another year's supply if I could be confident that processing would be available. But I guess that Kodak don't know that themselves?

    In the meantime, I'll enjoy taking and collecting as many good K64 slides as time and circumstances allow during 2009. And that, to me, is what it's all about.
     
  25. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Effete ? Hardly. YOU should be lucky to accomplish 1% of what Edsel did in his too short life.

    Effete ? Bozo.
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Actually, Nickrack was right. I was mixing a metaphor. Both Ford and Chevrolet made cars. Chevvy could have made an Edsel, but to what point - and that was my point. Making Kodachrome is diluting Kodak's efforts by diluting their profits! Simple as that.

    Now, what can they (or I) do. I've already commented on how I felt about their advertizing Kodachrome, sales of it and not selling the 400 speed Kodachrome. I've made a lot of negative comments or stated how I would do things differently, but you cannot undo the past so why should I keep repeating things over and over.

    As for scaling down, you are right but some things just will not scale down. Why scale down paper manufacture, when people want large sheets? A 4" coater will not work, but still takes just about the same facilities and people to keep running as a 42" machine. Only the room is smaller.

    Pilot machines are not very automated because they are pilot machines and need someone to nurse the new product or altered product through growing pains, and building a new machine would cost a lot! With Kodak stock having been selling at $120 / share in the 90s, and now being around $5, they have to notice that.

    I spoke with Antonio Perez personally when Kodak discontinued making paper. I asked him about it, and his answer was quite to the point. It was bleeding Kodak dry of money due to being a huge loss leader, even larger than Kodachrome! So, when you get upset that I am "defending" Kodak, just remember that I have said here that they don't always do things right, and I have said as much to the CEO.

    Now, Kodachrome is so obsolete, it is over 20 years old. No T-grains, and a very poor cyan coupler. K25 used very twitchy emulsions and coating methods and had a high reject rate. Ron Andrews was totally right! It is losing money. When the Fuji - Kodachrome analog began losing money they put that money into E6 product development and today they have a superior E6 product to Kodak. So, I've said it again! They did the smart thing rather than the "politically correct" thing. The old Fujichrome was not their flagship product. What did they care?

    I hope this clarifies some things. And, I'm sorry you feel that I feel that way. I have to watch friends and neighbors be laid off right and left.

    PE